Saturday, October 09, 2010

Ian Morris farewelled

From Hawkes Bay Today, an editorial "It's a poorer place without Ian Morris". Read it here.

Also, Simon Grigg remembers Ian's work as a studio engineer and producer, for the likes of Hello Sailor (that's his production on Gutter Black), DD Smash, Greg Johnson, The Warratahs, Pop Mechanix, Southside of Bombay, Screaming Meemees and more.

"...An Ian Morris production was noticeably and identifiably an “Ian Morris” record. They had a sound and it was a sound that worked. For me, he produced the only album by The Screaming Meemees. The sessions were uproarious – rather out of control and bourbon soaked. It was at these that he met Kim, his wife.

I talked to him several times over the years about remixing these, as recently as a few months ago – it was his idea, as he felt the album was unfinished and didn’t want to leave it that way, although I guess that’s the way it will now stay.

However, when we remastered Paradise for digital release late last year, the remasterer, Alan Jansson, no studio slouch himself, was blown away by the audio depth and quality of the recording (also a tribute to the original engineer, Steve Kennedy) of the original which still sounds as vaguely ahead of its time as it did when released..."

Ian's own website has some great writing on his studio work, including the tale of two snaredrums (Gutter black/Game of Love). What a loss.

Everyday sunshine

Fishbone were a huge influence on my old band, Hallelujah Picassos. Our former manager Lisa hipped me to this film, a documentary on the band. Fishbone formed in1979 when the members were in junior high school in South Central Los Angeles. From the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Fishbone might be the only African American punk band you could name. It has always stayed a bit underground, but that's the way the band members want to play it. They broke stereotypes, exerted wide influence, yet refused to play by recording labels' rules and paid a heavy price for it. There was also a bit of self-destruction as well.

"In the '80s, there was this kind of Hollywood scene of people that were huge fans of Fishbone," said San Francisco documentarian Chris Metzler, whose film "Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone," makes its Bay Area premiere this month at the Mill Valley Film Festival and DocFest in San Francisco.

"John Cusack, Tim Robbins, Chris Rock, David Arquette. We found out that Laurence Fishburne was the closest to the band. He'd let them crash at his place in LA or New York. The way he knew of the band is he was a bouncer in this club in Hollywood, and heard Fishbone onstage and was like, 'Who are these brothers?'

Among the down periods was in 1993, when founding member Norwood Fisher tried to help a band member succumbing to mental illness, and ended up being tried on kidnapping charges. Another original member, Angelo Moore, was forced to move in with his mother.
So did the band like the film?

"They came and saw it at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where we debuted" in June, Metzler said. "I think seeing it in front of the audience, seeing people laughing, being emotionally wrenched at the end of the film - Norwood likes the movie, but Angelo loves the movie. He's just like, 'That's my life! That's what it is.' This is the trials and travails of trying to be an aging punk rocker into your 40s."

Mike Park has seen Fishbone 173 times.  He talks about the first time he saw them and the impact it had on him here.

Who is Mr Brown?

He's Len Brown - the mayor of the new supercity. Is Mr Brown controlled by remote, asks Bob....

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat Oct 9

Oluko Umo - Praise Jah
Milton Hamilton - We have all the time
Keith Mansfield - Crash course
DJ Spinna - Dilla is the G.O.A.T
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings  - Better things
Temptations - Plastic man
Jackie Mittoo - Totally together
Black seeds - Make a move - Downtown Brown remix
Chaka Demus and Pliers - Murder she wrote
Mos dub - History town
Johnny Osbourne - Budy bye - Kenny Dope remix
War - Me and baby brother
Scritti politti - Absolute - Version
Tex Pistol - Game of love
Gladys Knight - It's better than good time - Walter Gibbons mix
Sylvia - Sweet stuff
Hypnotic brass ensemble - Alyo
DJ Vadim - Hidden treasure
Noel Ellis - Stop your fighting
Hollie Smith - Hiding - Dub Asylum remix
Manasseh - Dubbing the gorgon
Gregory Peck - Pocoman jam
Foxy Brown - Fast car
Rhombus feat Rodney P - The bubble - Dub terminator mix
Oogun - Fuss n fight
Shaggy feat Barrington Levy - Broadway
Guinness Steel City Symphony Band - Sir duke
Eru Dangerspiel - Chilli moules
Richie Phoe - Eyes on the prize dub

Friday, October 08, 2010

RIP Ian Morris (Th Dudes, Tex Pistol)

I heard this late last night via Twitter and hoped it wasn't true. Sadly, it is. NZ Herald story here. Much love to his family and friends at this sad time.

UPDATE: Statement from Peter Urlich (Via NZH)

"At this moment I'm waiting to wake from a terrible dream. I have just lost my oldest and dearest friend, Ian Morris.

The cruel fact is that only in these moments, do you truly realise how important a mate like that is. If I were a house, one side of me has just collapsed.

Ian was one of the foundations of me. He possessed a talent that I was in awe of; he had a staggering intelligence that had few equals; his mind was scalpel sharp but his heart was soft; and we shared a sense of humour that I thought we would trade until we were wizened old men. (I recognise these attributes also in David Joseph Dobbyn).

The two of them found each other in Form 1, Sacred Heart College, 1968 - a pair of slightly nervous freshmen, who only had music to fight off the bullies. And I found them at the same time.

Thank God! I cannot begin to accurately describe what those two men mean to me. And now one of them has gone. Ian, I loved the way you played guitar, I loved the way you played with my boys Joe and Stan: I loved your immaculate taste in music.

I cherished that we were so in tune that we didn't need words.

Thank you for all of your wisdom. I can't remember when you were actually wrong. Thank you for your the fact that you would have forgiven me anything. That goes for me too.

And thank you so much for choosing me to be your lead singer."

UPDATE 2: Morris had two number one chart hits as Tex Pistol - the tune above, and Nobody Else, on Trevor Reekie's label Pagan Records.  These release notes are from Simon Grigg's extensive discography of the Pagan catalogue, with notes by Trevor.

PAG 1013Tex Pistol - Ballad of Buckskin Bob / I Don’t Know What Came Over Me / Winter (June 86) Ian Morris. Chris Bourke sold me on Tex. I knew he was gonna do us good but it wasn’t gonna be this one but we managed to get Winter into a film.

PAG 1030Tex Pistol - The Game of Love / Boot Hill drag (87) The old Mindbenders hit. Our first number one single and radio lapped it up.

PAG 1038Tex Pistol - Nobody Else / Wilf (May 88) I convinced Ian Morris to make this recording he’d done with Rikki to be part of Tex Pistol. Then we found Paul Middleditch, a 20 year old genius video maker to make what is still a fantastic video. Went to number one. By this time I’d bought the label from the receivers.

PAG 1048 Tex Pistol and Rikki Morris - Come Back Louise / Notting Hill Shuffle (89) By this time the tall poppy thing was clobbering us big time.

Hollie Smith remix

Ms Hollie Smith has a remix competition on at the moment, and I've cooked up a Dub Asylum remix for it, all reggae-styles. Have a listen, and if you like it, please vote for it. Thanks

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Eat more bran

Screamin Jay Hawkins and Serge Gainsbourg, piano duel. Watch Jay howl and moan as Serge grins his head off, trying not to laugh.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Flying Nun flashback

Spotted via Dubber... Flying Nun have just released their first new vinyl release in over 15 years this week  -Form, the latest album from Die Die Die. Read about the process of getting vinyl out back in the day here, on Flying Nun's blog.

Monday, October 04, 2010

NZ Music Awards get Sweetman'd

Music reviewer and blogger Simon Sweetman wrote a piece today on the NZ Music Awards and his disgust for it. It's worth noting that he was also a judge this year (and yet he claims he isn't part of the music industry - go figure). There were several points he makes in the piece which are factually incorrect - I did try to post them as comments on his blog but they didn't get published, as is their choice.

Sweetman has a go at the Critics Choice Prize, saying "the winner was supposed to be a band that did not have an album out at the time of judging. Two of the three finalists released their albums within weeks of the judging..." Wrong. This award was for bands who did not have an album out during the eligibility period  -June 1 2009 to May 31 2010, not at the time of judging (see NZMA eligibilty criteria).

He also says "There were also meant to be two showcase gigs - one in Wellington and one in Christchurch. A chance to take a part of the awards show on the road, to take it out of Auckland; in the end these shows never happened." Why was that? Because there was an earthquake in Christchurch which made them no longer viable. Left that bit out, aye Simon?

Best part - he slags off Dane Rumble, Gin, Ladyhawke, then highlights his critical darlings, the Phoenix Foundation - but fails to mention they have the most nominations of any act at this years awards.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Real Groove is goneburgers

Friday saw the demise of Real Groove magazine, as its publishers, Tangible Media, said they were merging it into the weekly free magazine, Groove Guide. Longtime contributor Gary Steel wrote a piece on it at, called Real Gone.

Steel says that "it changed markedly with each successive editor. Both [former editors] John Dix and Nick Bollinger reflected Real Groovy’s roots-music bias, but it grew bigger, got a cover price, got glossier and larger in format, and eventually attempted to become a general culture bible in addition to a music magazine. It had elements of Mojo and Uncut, but reflected its smaller demographic by trying valiantly to be all things to all people."

I totally agree with him that the columns were "the real guts of Real Groove ...  it did have a bunch of specialists in different genres writing with passion and knowledge in a section of columns, and ... I think this section was really the best part of the magazine, and the one that will be most missed." I loved reading what columnists like Kerry Buchanan, Troy Ferguson, and Stinky Jim had to say every month. Fantastically opinionated writing from such hugely knowledgeable folk was a delight. 

Former editor Duncan Greive weighs in over at  He notes that the magazine departs on its 18th birthday,with the final issue, with Leonard Cohen on the cover, hitting newstands now. Oddly enough the magazine has had a redesign, and looks a lot like Rolling Stone and Uncut. It's a strange look to go out on, but I suspect the staff probably didn't know it was the mag's swansong when they were putting it together.

Duncan talks about the magazine's circulation, and its perception in the marketplace among punters. He talks about battling the effects of the internet, and ad sales declining.

"... The final issue, with Leonard Cohen on the cover, is a pretty impressive way to bow out. It looks fantastic, design-wise, and seems to have settled into a groove (argh) which might have actually worked, had it been allowed to continue. A local answer to Uncut et al might have worked (though as others have pointed out, those publications’ ad pages are thin and unglamourous), with an equal engagement with the past and the future, targeting the people who still spend money on music.

" That was always Tangible’s plan for the publication, one which I definitely didn’t engage with beyond bowing to the suggestion that U2 grace the cover (then immaturely struggling to restrain my glee when it tanked at the news-stand). Given six more months to truly define the role and get the market to buy in maybe the story ends very differently .... But the demise itself was never in question, in my opinion, no matter what well-intentioned sales people, editors, publishers and more tried to do. It was the date which remained in play until now. Whether magazines can continue to limp on until some new technology or system makes them viable is an open question."

UPDATE Wednesday 6 Oct: More Real Groove tributes from former writers Joe Nunweek and Dan Trevarthen. also carried a story about Real Groove's closure, based on some wildly  inaccurate information which I understand was a press release provided by Tangible Media. "When Tangible Media purchased the Groove titles after Real Groovy went into liquidation in 2008, the magazine couldn’t continue to be propped up by the music store."

Former General Manager at Real Groovy, Steve Richards, bought Real Groove off Real Groovy way before the liquidation and started up Groove Media as their publisher, and was successfully running nthe mags without being propped up by the stores., which were clearly doing badly then. I remember when  Real Groovy went into liquidation thinking that at least Real Groove would survive the fallout, as it was no longer part of the shops.

R.I.P. Richard Griffey (Solar Records)

Photo: LA Times (taken in 1973)
"Richard Griffey, the founder of the Los Angeles-based R&B record label Solar (Sound Of Los Angeles Records), died at the age of 71 of complications from quadruple-bypass heart surgery that he underwent last year (read more about Griffey’s life in The LA Times' obituary).

"From 1977 when Griffey founded the label, which stands for Sounds of Los Angeles Records, through its peak in the 1980s, the label quickly earned its moniker, “the Motown of the '80s,” for its stable of artists.

"Acts like the Whispers, Shalamar (featuring Jody Watley and Howard Hewett), Klymaxx, Midnight Star and the Deele (featuring Antonio "L.A." Reid and Babyface Edmonds) all have Griffey’s imprint on them. His hits are inescapable, with classics including “Fantastic Voyage,” “And the Beat Goes On,” “Rock Steady” and “Tender Lover.” The string of success led to Griffey being pegged "the most promising new black music executive," which The Times reported in 1980.

The R&B, funk and soul jams his acts crafted laid the foundation for the early-1990s G-funk West Coast flavor of Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Warren G, among others. Edmonds said it was all part of Griffey’s genius." LA Time Pop and Hiss blog

Griffey got his start in the music business as a nightclub owner and promoter. He became the talent co-ordinator on the tv show Soul Train, working with host and producer Don Cornelius. His last ten years were spent mostly in Africa, where he went to promote music but stayed because he "was touched by the poverty and felt that he could make a difference," his daughter said.

Diplo profiled

Nice little mini-documentary on DJ/producer Diplo from film maker Wing-Yee Wu... (hat tip to Duncan Blair for the link)...

Fave quote: "as a producer I still don't have a lot of confidence but I think that grows... you can grow up as a producer a lot more than you can as a dj, that's a logical progression"